Posted November 30, 2017 | 5:10 PM

Wishes are Signed, Sealed, Delivered with Sincerely Santa

Local firefighters and law enforcement officers joined forces to surprise students at DeSoto Elementary School with a parade to kick off a month-long effort by the first responders to support the Sincerely Santa program.

On Nov. 30, Santa arrived on a fire engine, flanked by first responders and their vehicles from seven agencies. Participating departments included: Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Tampa Fire Rescue, Tampa Police, Temple Terrace Police, Temple Terrace Fire, and Florida Highway Patrol.

After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus sat among kindergartners for a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, followed by gifts of books for the children to take home.

The book the children received was Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Suess. Upon opening their first gifts of the holiday season, the children smiled and laughed with excitement. As is tradition for DeSoto Elementary students, they were instructed to bring these same books back for a ceremony on their last day of fifth grade.

The nonprofit Sincerely Santa organization began in 1987, and the program grows each year. Hillsborough County Public Schools select the schools and children for the program. Sincerely Santa collects the donations, and local first responders help make the program work. Together, they've provided such necessities as food, clothing, and eyeglasses for more than 100,000 at-risk children in Hillsborough County.

For more information on the Sincerely Santa program and to find out how you can help, visit